A nuclear explosion is an explosion with intense light and heat and with a devastating pressure wave and release of radioactive materials leading to the pollution of air, water and soil miles away from the place of explosion. A nuclear bomb can be so big that could only be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or it can be so small that can be carried by just one person. Moving any type of nuclear bomb has lethal effects (such as, blinding light, intense heat of initial nuclear radiation, horrific explosion sound, fire caused by heat and pressure and secondary fires).
The dangers of nuclear weapons
It’s difficult to predict the extent, nature and the time of these risks. Geographical distribution of the risks depends on the following factors:
- The size of nuclear bomb: the bigger the bomb the broader the effects.
- The height of the place in which the bomb explodes.
- The condition of the land in which the explosion occurs: flat areas when exposed to the risk of explosion are more vulnerable compared to high altitude regions.
- Atmospheric conditions at the time of explosion: wind speed and direction and the amount of precipitation affect the consequences of a nuclear explosion.
Even people who are not too close to the explosion site are also influenced by its direct consequences because radioactive precipitation occurs. Any nuclear explosion causes a nuclear rainfall. Explosions occur near the surface of the earth compared to explosion of high altitude regions cause more nuclear rainfall. The reason is that excessive heat due to explosion will form a mushroom cloud (or plum). When the explosion occurs near the surface, millions particles of dirt are added to the cloud. When the heat of explosion is on the decline, radioactive material sticking to the particles again come back to/on the ground (nuclear rainfall). The rainy radioactive materials continue to operate for a long time and are considered the main lasting source of radiation.
If the weather conditions are appropriate, the wind current will take the rainfall up to hundreds of kilometers away from the place of explosion. Even the impact of a small bomb at ground level can be potentially fatal. Nuclear radiation is not clear and it shouldn’t be sniffed/breathed. Nuclear radiation cannot be detected by other senses as well. This radiation can only be detected by special tools. Such a situation leads to radiological crises with other crises such as occurrence of floods or hurricanes.
We can also pursue nuclear rainfall by radiometer devices and inform people through official channels. However any increase in the number of mushroom clouds rising from the ground should be considered as a warning. So care/protective measures should be included in the agenda.
The impact of electromagnetic
The explosion of an atomic bomb over earth, in addition to other impacts, will cause an electromagnetic blow (EMP). EMP is like the impact of electric shock but its speed is higher and lasts a shorter time. Instruments connected to electricity or antenna can be damaged highly by electromagnetic blow/impact (for example computer and home appliances). Damage caused by electromagnetic impact can be total or partial. Most electronic equipments located within 1500 kilometers of the nuclear explosion area are affected. Short antenna battery- powered radios are not usually damaged. However EMP doesn’t have any negative impact on people, for patients with pace makers or other electrical equipments implanted is dangerous.
Protective against nuclear explosion
If there is the risk of such an attack, residence of nearby target should immediately leave their homes and take refuge in a relatively safe place. Protection against/from radioactive rainfall requires taking shelter in the basement or a room in the middle of a big building. Generally potential targets include the following:
- Strategic missile sites and military bases.
- Government centers or big cities.
- Transport and telecommunication centers.
- Manufacturing, industrial, technological and financial centers.
- Refineries, oil plants, petrochemical industries.
- Airports and important air hubs.
3 factors should be considered for protection against radiation and radioactive rainfall. They include:
- Distance: the greater distance between an individual and particles makes it better. It‘s better for everyone to be in the basement because compared to the first floor it is more safe. The middle floor is a better place because in which radioactive rainfall reaches the lowest level. Since top floors absorb more radioactive, there will not be considered a suitable place.
- Protection: the harder and denser panel between the individual and particles makes/is better (for example thick, concrete and brick walls).
- Time: radioactive rainfall will be less over time. One can leave the shelter overtime. Radioactive particles are most at risk during 2 weeks. Because after 2 weeks the power of rainfall is reduced to about 1 percent of the initial value.
We should remember that any protection is better than its absence. And the more distance, time and protection exist, the safer we will be.
Protective and care measures to be taken before nuclear explosion accident
- The officials should be asked whether they have any building in their mind as a refuge from radioactive materials. If there is not such a refuge in the country, it’s better for them to consider a place near the house, work place, or school/university for this reason. These places can be the basements, areas without windows, middle place of residential buildings, underground corridors and tunnels.
- If someone lives in an apartment or a tall building, he/she should obtain information from manager concerning finding a safe place as refuge and concerning/about preparing the place for people to live until the situation becomes normal.
- The more the possibility of nuclear accident is, the more facilities and requirements should be available in the country. It should be in a way that meets a two-week need of people.
- Preparing a shelter during a nuclear accident is an absolute necessity. There are two kinds of shelters: shelters against nuclear explosion and shelters against the rain of radioactive.
- Shelters against nuclear explosions are built specifically to cope with the pressure due to nuclear explosion, initial/primary radiation, intense heat and fire. Of course it can partly
create protection. However even such a shelter has little resistance against direct impact of nuclear explosion.
- There is no need to build shelters against radioactive precipitation. However if the walls and ceilings of the building are sufficiently thick and dense, they can absorb part of nuclear radiation emitted by precipitation particles.
Protective and care measures to be taken during nuclear explosion accident
- As far as possible, people should cover themselves. If possible, they should immediately go underground and stay there until the situation becomes normal (unless other instruction has been issued).
- Follow news and information via radio.
- If someone is outdoors and cannot immediately go to shelter, he/she should consider the following:
- He/she shouldn’t look at sparks and lights because there is the risk of blindness.
- He/she should take refuge wherever might protect him/her and cover him/herself.
- He/she should lie on the ground and protect his/her head with the aid of the hands. If there is some distance between an individual and the place of explosion, it takes 30 seconds for the impact of explosion to reach an individual.
- Even if someone is several kilometers away from the place of explosion, he/she should immediately take shelter. Because radioactive precipitation is transferred to hundreds of kilometers. Always keep in mind three protective factors: distance, protection and time.
Protective and care measures to be taken after nuclear explosion accident
The amount of radioactive precipitation depends on the size of nuclear bomb. However the amount of radioactive precipitation will be based on the size of bomb and its proximity to earth. So residents living in the place affected more by radiation should stay in shelter for more than one month.
The greatest amount of precipitation is in the area near the place of explosion and the place lower than it. 80% of precipitation occurs within the first 24 hours. People living in contaminated areas must be allowed to leave the shelter after several days and if necessary go to non-contaminated areas.
Back to home or work place
- Notice TV and radio news and advices about safe and unsafe places.
- Be/get away from area affected. Get/be away from areas with “radiation hazard warning” or hazardous material warning”. We should remember that radioactive material is not visible. It should not be inhaled and cannot be detected by any sense.